New galleries, opportunities as UAB creates Visual Arts Institute

UAB will complete its campus cultural arts district when the spacious, new Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts opens in June 2013.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts Nov. 18, 2011.

IVA2_storyThe Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts will house the College of Arts and Science’s Department of Art and Art History. The institute will feature leading-edge galleries, studio, office and storage space for the department as it continues to grow. The facility is named for Hal and Judy Abroms and Marvin and Ruth Engel, who are the lead donors.

The 26,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility is designed by nationally recognized architect Randall Stout, of Los Angeles, Calif., who worked with Frank Gehry as senior associate for seven years. Hoar Construction will oversee construction of the building, which is expected to open by June 2013. The project’s total cost will be $12.5 million.

“We’re especially grateful to Judy and Hal Abroms and Ruth and Marvin Engel, longtime patrons of the arts at UAB, for their generous lead gifts for this project and for their shared vision of the importance of having this facility on our campus,” said UAB President Carol Garrison. “This institute will increase our exhibition space nearly three-fold, allowing us to produce, curate and host exhibits of greater scope. This is the beginning of a legacy of pioneering and engaging achievements in the visual arts and arts scholarship.”

The location of the IVA, across the street from UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center and near the departments of Theatre and Music and the other visual-arts disciplines in the Humanities Building, will complete the creation of a UAB Cultural Arts District. Students and faculty will have a greater sense of community and the district will offer opportunities for collaboration and interaction with other arts agencies in the city.

“Just as UAB’s Alys Stephens Center is Birmingham’s ‘home for the performing arts,’ we are very excited about this institute becoming a new ‘home for the visual arts,’” Garrison said.

The IVA will provide 12 offices for faculty, staff and graduate students, plus space for three studios for graphic design and time-based media. Also included are a multi-purpose lecture hall, seminar room, classroom and a visual-resources library for art history. Three spacious, climate-controlled galleries and preparation facilities will enhance greatly UAB’s abilities to curate and host exhibits and collaborate with other arts agencies in Birmingham. Climate-controlled storage which meets American Association of Museums environmental standards will house and protect works in the university collection, including photographs by Andy Warhol now housed at the Birmingham Museum of Art. A small catering kitchen and an easy-access loading dock facility will foster opportunities for exhibitions, guest artist visits and gallery receptions. Students will enjoy a gathering lounge, an atrium/lobby/gallery concourse, a sculpture garden to house the UAB outdoor sculpture collection and an arts plaza for interdisciplinary and multi-media events.

New parking areas will be designed in the surrounding lot to ensure abundant parking for the UAB Cultural Arts District.